Fourth-year UNM football coach Danny Gonzales provided updates on his team in a media availability at The Pit. (Herron photo)
To possibly nobody’s surprise, after winning only twice in 2022, the University of New Mexico football team was pegged for last place in the 12-team Mountain West Conference poll by the media.
And, also surprising nobody, perennial powerhouse Boise State was selected as the No. 1 team, followed by Air Force, Fresno State and San Diego State in the top four.
The Lobos open the 2023 season September 2 at Texas A&M, a game that can be seen on ESPN at 5 p.m.
Regardless of how the season goes, City of Vision fans should know there are 14 former Cleveland and Rio Rancho high school players on the roster.
The seven former Rams are Isaiah Chavez, Zach Vigil, Jaylen Morgan, Josh Howes, Larry Allen III, Cayden Romero and Zach Benedict. Former Storm players are brothers Luke and Evan Wysong, Dorian Lewis, Jalen Washington, David Murphy, Joe Ray Maez and Nic Trujillo.
Game times for the remaining five home games have been set, with all five games appearing on the either the Mountain West Network or Spectrum.
UNM’s opening two home games, on September 9 against Tennessee Tech and September 16 against New Mexico State, will kick off at 6 p.m. UNM’s home games against San José State (October 14), Hawai’i (October 21) and UNLV (November 4) will all have 4 p.m. kickoffs.
Of those five games, all but the Hawai’i game will be broadcast on the Mountain West Network. The game with Hawai’i will be available on Spectrum in Hawai’i and digitally elsewhere. UNM’s final home game against Utah State on Black Friday (Nov. 24) was previously announced as a 1:30 p.m. kickoff on CBS Sports Network.
The later kickoffs will allow for a great fan experience as installation is ongoing for the new lightning system for Lobo football, replacing the previous halogen system that was in place for years. The new system not only needs no time to warm up after powering down as the old system did, but it is a computerize system that will allow for various lighting patterns to be used during the game to aid in the fan experience.
The 6 p.m. kickoffs will allow the fans to avoid the direct sunlight and hottest temperatures in early September while allowing fans plenty of time to tailgate. The game against San José State comes not only on the back half of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, but it also coincides with a total annular solar eclipse of the sun. The path of the eclipse will pass directly over University Stadium at 10:35 a.m. and last for nearly five full minutes. There will not be another such event in Albuquerque for at least 178 years; it’s the first total eclipse of the sun over Albuquerque since May 20, 2012.
UNM’s matchup with Hawai’i will also be UNM’s 98th Homecoming football game, and it will be the sixth time that UNM faces off with Hawai’i on Homecoming.
The coaching staff, led by third-year coach Danny Gonzales, have worked hard to turn this program into a trendy dark horse pick to do damage in the Mountain West, with a revamped offense and what is shaping up to be another hard-hitting solid defense. The Lobos also boast perhaps one of the best special teams units in all phases from punting to kicking to returns to coverage not just in the Mountain West, but nationally.
Christian Washington was named Preseason All-Mountain West at kick returner, and various magazines and websites have honored the likes of punter Aaron Rodriguez and punt returner Luke Wysong.
Season tickets for what is shaping up to be an exciting season of Lobo Football are on sale now at golobos.com.
NCAA makes rules changes
The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Pane decided that the Targeting rule will remain the same in 2023 as the committee feels the rule continues to drive positive player behavior in terms of the use of the helmet. The committee also noted last year’s change to the blocking below the waist rule resulted in data showing fewer player injuries.
The most significant 2023 football rules changes involve adjustments to the timing and clock rules. The rules committee made these changes to drive three strategic initiatives: to keep the game moving in terms of pace of play; moderately reduce the number of plays per game; and ensure consistency in officiating mechanics managing the game clock.
Stopping and starting the clock/first downs: When the offense gains a first down, the clock will no longer be stopped to award a first down except with less than two minutes remaining in the second and fourth quarters. (Effective immediately for DI.)
Consecutive charged team timeouts: Consecutive charged team timeouts will no longer be allowed by the same team in any individual dead ball period. Each team is entitled to three charged team timeouts during each half, with no more than one charged team timeout available per team, per individual dead ball period.
Extension of periods: A period shall be extended for an untimed down in the second and fourth quarter only if a penalty is accepted for a live-ball foul, if there are offsetting fouls, or an inadvertent whistle.